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Kipp v. Delaware

Delaware Supreme Court
704 A.2d 839 (1998)


Hugh Kipp (defendant) was arrested for possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person after police discovered three guns and two hunting bows in Kipp’s house. Kipp had previously pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault and was therefore prohibited from possessing deadly weapons. At trial, Kipp argued that he did not know he was prohibited from possessing deadly weapons because he was misled during his previous guilty plea. Kipp’s previous guilty-plea form showed that the form had been pre-marked “N/A” under a space that noted the plea would result in the loss of his right to possess deadly weapons. Kipp testified that he believed, and had been told, that he could still possess deadly weapons despite the guilty plea. Delaware’s statute criminalizing possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person provided that any person who had been convicted of a felony or crime of violence resulting in physical injury to another was prohibited from possessing deadly weapons. Although Kipp had pled guilty to a misdemeanor crime of violence that resulted in the injury of another person, neither the judge nor the prosecutor trying Kipp’s assault plea had corrected the error on the guilty-plea form. Moreover, Kipp testified at trial that he was told the prohibition against possessing weapons did not apply to him because he was only pleading guilty to a misdemeanor. Kipp was convicted of three counts of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person. Kipp appealed to the Supreme Court of Delaware, arguing that he had a valid mistake-of-law defense. The state conceded error and submitted that Kipp’s judgments of conviction should be reversed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Holland, J.)

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